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A focused, personal, often haunting document of lives lost at ignorance's expense
Landmark documentary focuses on a handful of prisoners, whom after 10,15,20 or so years, have been eventually found innocent and set free, only to fall on deaf ears in society. In detailing the startlingly inept justice systems' process dealing with the exonerated, director Jessica Sanders and producer Marc H. Simon largely succeed in documenting the tragic flaws of our system and it's ultimate hypocrisies of presuming innocence. Not only do we get a scathing survey of our governments apathetic synapses when it comes to dispensing justice, but at the heart of this difficult film lies the wounded and warped psychologies these stunningly brave and fierce seven men have been left by society to sift through as they are literally thrown onto the street after decades of wrongful imprisonment with nary a dollar of compensation to their name, often having to fight and pay their own money just to have their false charges expunged.
This project illuminates the grim underbelly of our judicial system in a way I think even the most hardened cynic would appreciate, and matched with the emotional perspectives shown struggling and grasping for relevance in a world that could care less, urges viewers to wake up to the less comfortable aspects of our legal system. After Innocence packs even more sting from the tense and unpredicted outcome of these fates, highlighted in particular by inmate Wilton Dedge's ongoing fight for release, an outcome that became the brilliant and triumphant finale only through the goodwill of fate, as the documentary was already due at Sundance before any real resolution was filmed with his scenario. Dedge's Florida case was infamous for having proved his innocence, beyond any shadow of a scientific doubt whatsoever, yet still remained in jail for another 3 years, a testament to how corrupt and proud our monster of justice really is.
Anyone who takes a slightest interest in powerful, insightful documentary film-making, promotes social and just change, or wishes to examine the absolute pit of ignorance that remains our legal precedents, should remain riveted throughout the important piece. If the simple and profound legal ramifications dictating how justice is being perverted in our country do not rile you where you sit, behold these seven men and their haunted subtleties, and begin to never take your freedom for granted.
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